By Tyne Morgan
Benjamin Franklin once said: “When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.”
We all need water to survive, as do our crops. We hear all the time about the depletion of water tables, yet I don’t think farmers in areas where moisture is abundant truly understand its impact.
Farmers I visited with last week in the Texas panhandle and Oklahoma already see the effects of farming with limited water. Although these farmers aren’t farming in a desert, it’s pretty close. Irrigation is a necessity to produce a good crop, yet the growers I talk to see irrigation isn’t a substitute for rain water (nothing beats rain-fed crops).
I talked to Bob Glodt, an ag consultant in Plainview, Texas, who is working with Monsanto and soil moisture probes. He can see on the computer what irrigation does for his crop and how far down in the soil the moisture goes. I had a great conversation with him about the future of farming in the panhandle of Texas, and Glodt provided a lot of great insight. He told me during our conversation farming in that area will change dramatically in the next ten years–and it will all revolve around water.
Growing up, I always heard about the challenges of farming in such a dry area. My grandfather was born and raised in Texas and farmed in the Texas panhandle. About 40 years ago, he got tired of constantly irrigating his cotton (including in the middle of the night). So, he decided to move to Missouri and raise cattle. The way he talked about the challenges made me wonder why people would want to farm in an area like that. But after talking to farmers last week, I see that although there are quite a few challenges, there are numerous opportunities as well. It’s rewarding for them to produce a crop every year, and although there is a great deal of risk involved, there is also a great deal of reward.
Going back to Franklin’s quote, farmers in the area are already taking some steps to address the limited water situation and the depleting water table–so is Monsanto. There are many things in the works aimed at helping farmers like the ones I talked to last week. The soil moisture probes, drought-tolerant technology and more will help these farmers produce more with fewer resources. To me, this is the true definition of sustainable agriculture. It won’t be easy, but I do think both farmers and Monsanto are up for the challenge. And by working together, it will be amazing to see how farming evolves over the years.
You can check out Tyne’s Colorado harvest update on Monsanto.com
For more photos of Tyne’s trip, check out the slideshow on Flickr